On our second day, we ate lunch at Deschutes Brewery. Among other things, it was one of the restaurants listed as offering gluten-free burgers. So we trekked down there to see what their menu offered. Although the efforts were valiant, Deschutes should probably do a little more research about gluten-free bread options. The head baker later contacted me to let me know that the bread served on that particular day was a substitute to their usual fare, but since in food service you only get one shot to impress, they should have chosen a better substitute. This one was soggy, crumbly, and not even shaped like a bun. I know from eating at some restaurants in Seattle that you can have a gluten-free burger that’s actually shaped like one.
For dinner, we checked out Pambiche, a popular Cuban restaurant that is remarkable in its appearance. I’d read several reviews about Pambiche praising the flavors and combinations of the menu. Perhaps I read too many, because while the food was pleasant and satisfying, the flavors did not pop out as remarkably as I had expected. We have dined in a few Cuban restaurants, and I found that this one was average in its flavors and seasoning. On the other hand, the drinks were creative and refreshing. Although the restaurant delivered decent food, the reviews made it appear better than it was.
On our final lunch in Portland, we checked out Blooming Lotus, a vegan, raw food cafe. Its humble, casual appearance caught us off-guard at first, and the wrinkled paper menus passed back to us through the line of customers needed to be reprinted. It seemed to fit into the Portland neighborhood’s come-as-you-are vibe, and most of the other customers seemed comfortable with the arrangement. We had vegan nachos, which consisted of a nut crust piled high with tomatoes, onions, scallions, and vegan avocado spread and nacho “cheese.” The flavors were crisp, fresh, and raw. Simple, direct, and definitely no-frills.
Because we’d been so nutritionally wise at our lunch, we indulged in some gluten-free pastries at Back to Eden Bakery. The friendly barista-server graciously allowed me to take an amazing number of photos. The quaint bakery was decorated tastefully, but it was packed with product. It took a few minutes of perusing of the shelves and of the bakery case to settle on our pastry selections.
Just a few doors down, and languishing in the hot sun, sat this double-decker bus that now served as one of Portland’s younger food carts, a trend sweeping the nation. The bus didn’t drive the food theme, which was primarily sandwiches and some seafood. Since we had already enjoyed a vegan lunch, we bade them best of luck.
Visit Portland, but don’t get too hyped up about the reviews. Find some new favorites, because Portland has lots to offer.